Stop burning through How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. How frequently you watch your favorite show, listen to your favorite song, or even sleep with your girlfriend can determine how long you stay satisfied with them (or her), finds new research from Carnegie Mellon and New York universities.
Researchers recruited hundreds of volunteers and put each through one of four different experiments that involved activities like playing video games or eating candy. In each of the experiments, some of the participants were allowed to eat or play as often as they wanted, while the researchers forced others to pace themselves. What happened? When allowed to choose, people played or ate nearly twice as often as their study counterparts, but they enjoyed the candy and video games up to 40 percent less–even though everyone ultimately played or ate the same amount, the study says.
“The slower you consume anything, the slower you become full,” says study author Jeff Galak, Ph.D., a marketing professor at Carnegie Mellon. He says it has to do with a natural brain mechanism psychologists call “spontaneous recovery.” Basically, the more breaks you give yourself, the more time your ability to feel satisfied has to “recover,” and the more you’ll enjoy the next experience, he explains.
“For example, if you were to listen to a song once a week, you wouldn’t really tire of it,” Galak says. “But if you listened to the same song once an hour, you’d get pretty bored of that song. The same goes for any experience, be it food, TV, art, or sex.” What’s Galak’s advice? “It’s simple,” he says. “When you find something you enjoy, consume it more slowly.” You’ll experience more satisfaction, and that satisfaction will last longer, he says. Need a few tricks to practice self-control? Learn How to Resist Any Temptation.